Normally seen as such as prestigious and proud moment for the individual, it went more like the ending of a story- a bit of background news. The day Rio Ferdinand was handed the England captaincy will always be remembered and overshadowed more for the fact that John Terry was sacked as captain.
When England manager Fabio Capello decided to take the captaincy away from John Terry, following intense speculation about his private life, the decision to hand the armband to Ferdinand was a natural one; he had been vice-captain ever since Capello started his job. The usual fuss has not surrounded the fact that England will now be led out by Ferdinand, mainly because the dust is still settling on the events regarding Terry. In some ways this co-ordinates nicely with the ‘new’ Rio Ferdinand that has been seen on and off the pitch since at least the last three seasons- he does not want the attention.
A lot will be mentioned in terms of the off-the-field comparisons between Ferdinand and Terry. Both have an unwanted long list of misdemeanours but Ferdinand’s difference is that he has rectified his sharply and presumably after taking a long, hard look at himself. His upbringing was in a rough area of London so his rise as a player and person over the last few years will have been on reflection on what he did wrong in his younger years.
A lot has been made about the captain being a role model or a symbol on and off the pitch. If it was to come down to that then a lot of the players in England’s current squad have been in the news for a wrong reason. Part of the job is the personality and character of a person. Added to this, Ferdinand will command respect from the rest of the squad because they will only be interested in the Rio Ferdinand that you see on the pitch. Therefore it makes no sense to give it to a player who may be totally clean off the pitch. As praiseworthy as that is, it does not mean that you should be England captain.
Ferdinand’s main contribution to cleaning up his act has been his involvement in community work. This has included his work in Aids awareness, child literacy and anti-racism campaigns shows a clever approach to life outside the pitch. This will help him a lot with captaining England because all of his extra-curricular activities involve responsibility. Ferdinand appears to embrace the fact that he can communicate with people at all levels. By doing this he is appreciating that if he performs consistently on the pitch, than he will get the recognition off it.
Whenever Ferdinand has played for England in important games and tournaments, he has done so with great quality and his presence in the defence can not be under estimated. By making him captain, this will only make him more determined to lead and play by example. He will have seen what has just happened to Terry and the effects it can have on you as a player. For someone who has gained a lot of knowledge and learnt so quickly, he is mature enough to accept that he must grab this opportunity with both hands.
Ferdinand seems to have changed people’s opinions of him. He is certainly popular in Africa for his charity work there. Let us hope that he leaves South Africa this summer as an England that earns a hero’s reception.